Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini claims Manchester United's sizeable lead in the Barclays Premier League exaggerates the difference between the two sides.
United hold a 15-point advantage over their rivals heading into Monday's derby clash at Old Trafford. With just eight games remaining, Mancini has already conceded the title but the Italian is determined to cut the deficit to a figure he believes more accurately reflects the on-field gap.
"We don't deserve to stay 15 points behind. They have played very well, they have won a lot of games," Mancini said.
"The last 18 (unbeaten) - the last time they lost was Norwich. They deserve to stay on the top, but not 15 points. It is not a true table. Now we have eight games. If we play well, if we win a lot of these games, maybe we can reduce this gap. This should be our target in this moment."
City memorably thrashed United 6-1 when they visited Old Trafford last season. Mancini is certainly not expecting a repeat, saying: "This is impossible. This can happen every 100 years."
But he does expect his team to give everything, even though the title seems out of reach and they face Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-finals the following week.
He said: "If it is not important for the table or the title race, I think the derby is always a derby. It is important for us and for them. We have pressure, always. It will be like the first (derby). I think every derby is important. We want to show we don't deserve to stay 15 points behind and we can reduce the gap from now to the end. But the title race is finished."
Meanwhile, Mancini does not expect Carlos Tevez's community service order to hamper the club in any way.
The Argentinian striker was this week ordered to undertake 250 hours of unpaid community work after being found guilty of driving while disqualified. The punishment comes at a time when Tevez has been in fine form on the field having scored six goals in his last seven appearances.
When asked if the community service was likely to cause a problem for City, Mancini said: "I don't think so, no. I didn't speak with him about this. I think that Carlos made a mistake and he will pay for this. But usually he has good behaviour."